My 2 secrets to staying motivated in Winter

We all know how much of a challenge exercising can be, and especially so in the colder months.  There are two things that keep me going when my own mojo has deserted me and that is to:

  1. Remember why you choose to exercise
  2. Know what exercise is the most effective for your goal

It is really imperative to have great reasons for choosing to exercise.  These are the things that will keep you motivated and help you throw those covers off in the chilly mornings and get out there.  Here are some of my top reasons for exercising that help keep me motivated and inspired even when the going gets tough, that might be helpful for you.

Why I choose to exercise:

  1. Exercise helps me manage appetite and helps me make great food choices for the rest of the day.  I am more likely to choose bad food if I have not had a chance to do some training.  
  2. Exercising has a great positive impact on sleep and sleep really is number one when it comes to improving energy, vitality, reducing body fat and reducing our risk of many health conditions.
  3. As a woman in her 40s I am mindful of my bone density and ensuring I am doing something that can help improve it as well as reducing my risk of fractures as I age so a big tick for the weight training exercises.
  4. Exercising improves my self-esteem, lifts my mood and helps me relax - all key for me as I tend to get stressed quite easily and have a high workload all while juggling two toddlers. So it is important I do something to counteract that part of my life.
  5. This is exceptionally important for me and a big driver to exercise – reducing the discomfort from arthritis or old sports injuries as I have no cartilage left in my right knee.  Exercise helps keep it under control and minimises any aching or pain as I work the muscle to take the load of the knee joint.  Along with plenty of fish oils and managing nutrition, I have been able to avoid painkillers and knee surgery - definitely a testament to exercising.
  6. Exercise also helps us counteract the natural muscle loss that occurs with aging. Performing weight bearing or resistance exercise helps maintain tone and condition in the body, and keeps you looking great.

What exercise is the most effective for my goals?

CONDITION / SYMPTOM / GOAL: Reduce cholesterol levels

EXERCISE: Exercise can improve HDL levels more so than reducing LDL levels. 

KEYS: Aim for duration over intensity and try to increase incidental activity as even a one-off bout of exercise will positively affect cholesterol metabolism.  Try doing a 5 minute walk before work, a 10 minute walk at lunchtime and perhaps 1-2 stairs at work throughout the day to increase the incidental movement.  An evening stroll along the beach or a walk with friends in the park are all great options when focusing on duration rather than intensity.


CONDITION / SYMPTOM / GOAL: Reduce stomach fat

EXERCISE: High Intensity exercise kept short has been shown to be more effective at reducing visceral / stomach fat than long endurance exercise.

KEYS: Aim for a stationary bike sprint session lasting no more than 20 minutes.  I like to use a ratio of 8 seconds sprinting and 12 seconds recovery for my clients for optimal results.  This is a good one when the weather outside is wintery and cold.


CONDITION / SYMPTOM / GOAL: Maintain bones during/after menopause

EXERCISE: Weight / resistance training is ideal to minimise the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis which is increased in this population.

KEYS: Aim for 3-4 times per week 40 min sessions of resistance work and avoid steady state long cardio as this increases risk of both conditions.  Weight training does not need to use heavy weights nor will it build big, chunky muscles.  Classes such as Pilates or yoga are both great to start out with weight bearing by using your own body weight.  You could try some squats and press ups at home as a beginner, again using body weight as your resistance. 


CONDITION / SYMPTOM / GOAL: Improve body shape & tone

EXERCISE: Fix the foundations first so focusing on bracing in the core and counteracting daily, regular movements and habits. 

KEYS: No need to go outside if its raining – simply try to include in your day a portion of time allocated to counteracting movement patterns such as hunched forward / seated positions.  Aim for 5 minutes daily especially working on strengthening out your anterior / front muscle and shortening and tightening your posterior / back muscles.


Lee-Anne Wann is a fitness specialist, nutritionist, presenter and author. She currently runs a health and fitness consultancy business providing companies and organisations with health, nutrition and wellness solutions and content, she also runs a private nutrition practice and was a television host for TVNZ’s ‘Kiwi Living’.